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Sparta Area School District hosts Stemkamp

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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SPARTA, Wis. (WEAU) - Thanks to a partnership through the Department of Defense, students in the Sparta Area School District were able to take part in a brand new learning experience.

Stemkamp is a program offered to ten military-connected school areas across the country.

Its goal is to teach students about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math - or STEM for short.

The program is made possible through a $2.8 million grant from the Department of Defense in conjunction with Goshen Education Consulting, Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and the local school districts hosting Stemkamps.

“The materials, the curriculum, the funding for the training and the people, it’s a really fantastic opportunity,” Sparta Area School District Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren said.

Program Director Shannon McWhorter says students work hands-on with instructors to complete various STEM-related projects.

“Research shows that children who are exposed to STEM activities before eighth grade have a greater likelihood of going into a STEM career,” McWhorter added.

Stemkamp also focuses on children of active military personnel, who can have a tough time in school due to not staying in one place for very long.

“Military kids move every two to three years and so there’s a lot of gaps in their education,” McWhorter said. “Sometimes they miss out on some of the fun activities in the summer because they’re moving.”

Van Deuren says despite how frequently students move in and out of the district, military children bring a unique perspective to Sparta.

“It adds so much richness to our community because we have families coming in that have been all over the country, all over the world, they bring a breadth of knowledge and experience that students who are not in the military and who don’t move a lot don’t have,” Van Deuren said.

Sparta is partnering with Stemkamp to provide the program for the next two years.

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